Now the training of men is a difficult and intricate task. Its technique is a matter for educational experts, but its object is for the vision of seers. If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may possess artisans but not, in nature, men. Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools—intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it—this is the curriculum of that Higher Education which must underlie true life. On this foundation we may build bread winning, skill of hand and quickness of brain, with never a fear lest the child and man mistake the means of living for the object of life. . . .And so we come to the present—a day of cowardice and vacillation, of strident wide-voiced wrong and faint hearted compromise; of double-faced dallying with Truth and Right.
- W.E.B. DuBois
When I started this ministry, 24 years ago, I had been a Mennonite prison chaplain who was also ordained in the New Jerusalem Pentecostal Holiness Church. The King’s Jubilee actually started in State Correctional Institution at Graterford in the Saturday morning E Block Bible study. E Block was the quarantine unit at the time, where inmates first came into the state system to be sorted out to be shipped to the various institutions where they were to do their time.
Things had gotten funky with the Mennonites. One of the pastors who had founded the prison ministry I supervised threatened to kill me when I would not allow him to bring contraband, inflammatory literature into the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. We went through a conflict mediation process. Everyone there agreed that he was in the wrong, but he would not budge or admit any wrong. In the end, it was a case of if you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much, and I was fired the week before Christmas, even though I had given three months notice so they could have an orderly transition and not damage or lose ministries. They did not care. The ministry in Philadelphia with over 300 volunteers and the only tutoring for women was shut down. Chaplain Sid Barnes at Graterford let me keep the Wednesday Bible Study and the Quarantine Unit ministry, because I had been the most faithful in them. In the case of the latter, I had started it. It was in this Bible study that the vision for this ministry was formulated. It is the vision of Christ’s first message in the synagogue, which was taken from Isaiah 60, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord!”
Yes, we serve meals to homeless people in center city Philadelphia, but that is not all we do; and that is not all we have done or all we hope to do! Serving the homeless in center city was the task the men in the E Block Bible Study particularly assigned me to do. You see, I told them that no one in this organization I was starting was going to just sit on a board and Monday morning quarterback. Everyone was going to be on the front lines. Furthermore, I wanted them to tell me where I should serve. Within five minutes, 150 convicted felons came to consensus, with no input from me, that they wanted me to serve the homeless in center city Philadelphia. If any of you know this demographic, you should recognize what kind of miracle this was. I took this as my “Macedonian Call”. I started to serve one night a week and have not found a good reason to quit. During Mayor Wilson Goode’s years, we dealt with the rowdy crack heads and the prostitutes. Fast Eddie Rendell had the police harass us all the time. We were investigated by his undercover units at least three times. Each time, I managed to tell them that we would go to jail rather than stop serving, because we needed to obey God rather than men. Mayor Street’s cops tried to tell us that the parks were private property. He was about to aggressively enforce the sidewalk ordinance, when “a routine sweep for bugs” turned up FBI bugs in his office and he had bigger fish to fry. Last year, Mayor Nutter decreed that we could not give away food to poor people in the parks. We had to sue him in federal court to retain our right to do so.
While this was going on, we started a clothing ministry in East Greenville, Clothesline, that continued at Peace Mennonite Church. We also held several music festivals for the poor and homeless in Philadelphia and Pottstown. We served for several years in Pottstown and Stowe, PA. We started a similar ministry at two sites in Columbia, SC, that a local Vineyard church took ownership of. The prison ministry at Graterford continued for several years, until Gov. Tom Ridge stopped all ministry in the prison in a knee jerk reaction to an incident in the mosque there, in 1996. We did Project: Lydia in Northampton County Prison for the women until they did not allow us to include notes or New Testaments. We had a Monday Evening Bible Institute for a couple of years. We started Operation: Clean Start. We have moved countless sets of furniture for people moving into apartments. There have been various other projects.
In 1999, we were chrismated into the Orthodox Church. Our family happened to come into an Antiochian Orthodox Church. The King’s Jubilee remains independently incorporated. I am sorry that I was so zealous, as converts often are, that almost all of our former supporters and volunteers dropped out of the ministry, as they saw this as an “Orthodox ministry.” I don’t know why this is such a problem, because my theology has not changed. When I first interviewed with Fr. Boniface, he kept asking me questions. With every answer, he just said, “You are so Orthodox!” Later, I found out that he was right. I had just read the Scriptures and the Fathers and had been Orthodox in my theology for many years and had just been longing for home. That being said, there is no reason my old friends can not join me. We have had Jews and atheists and Muslims and Methodists and Buddhists and Catholics serve with us and they have been happy as clams. We are not there to proselytize anyone. I still say what I have always said, “We do what we do in Jesus’ Name. If you don’t have a problem with that, I don’t have a problem with you joining us.” “In Jesus’ Name” does not mean that we preach at people. It means that we serve according to His will, with respect, love and dignity.
The occasion of this article is that I had a conversation this week with someone who told me that she wanted her church to support The King’s Jubilee, but wasn’t sure they would, because someone would say, “Well, they are Antiochian. Let the Antiochians do it.” I replied, “That’s stupid!”
We receive no budgeted or regular support from the Antiochian Church. My question to you is: Are you Christian?
This is ridiculous! No wonder the Orthodox Church is going nowhere as far as gospel witness is concerned. People say that it is growing fast in America, but that is only because the other churches are imploding under theological liberalism and gnosticism. There are fewer Mennonites in North America than there are Orthodox, yet they support 1,000 foreign missionaries, while we Orthodox barely support 20. We are going to punish the poor, because I was chrismated in an Antiochian church? Hey folks, I’m not Syrian. I’m not Greek. I’m not Russian. I’m not Serbian. I’m not Armenian. I’m not Ukrainian. I’m not Albanian. I’m not Georgian. I am American. Some of my ancestors have been here since 1628. I am trying to be Christian. I suggest that you try to be, too.
Jesus did not come to preserve ethnicities. He came to “build a new nation.” We have too much that needs to get done to worry about which bishop or which ethnicity or even which denomination or even which religion we belong to. Read Matthew 25. Everyone is surprised at the Judgment!
I’m going forward. I am sick of this Orthodox infighting and the jurisdictional nonsense. If this upsets you, I’m sorry. People are dying homeless on the streets. I think that is more important than whether or not we do things in the Antiochian or Greek or Russian way or not.
Lead. Follow. Or get out of the way.
We serve in Jesus’ Name.
It’s the busy season with the Vote for Homes! Coalition and we need you to get involved with efforts to register, educate, mobilize, and empower thousands of homeless and low-income voters. (To join the coalition, visit www.voteforhomes.org/about.)
Register Voters with the Vote for Homes Coalition Before the October 9th Deadline!
Register here to learn how to register voters and about voting rights for people who are homeless, living with disabilities, or ex-offenders. The trainings are designed for people working or living in social service agencies and volunteers who want to help register voters in our communities. It includes a special focus on the new Voter ID law. (Even volunteers who have been trained before are encouraged to come again because of the new information.)
Voter Registration Trainings- Pick one!
• Tuesday, August 14, 2:30 – 4:30
• Friday, August 17, 1 – 3
• Wednesday, August 22, 2:30-4:30 or 5:30 – 7:30
• Thursday, September 6, 10 – 12
• Tuesday, September 11, 2:30-4:30 or 5:30 – 7:30
• Friday, September 14, 2:30 – 4:30
• Sunday, September 16, 2:30 – 4:30
Trainings are held at 1515 Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia. Flyer available at www.voteforhomes.org. Snacks provided.
Please RSVP online at http://bit.ly/VFHtraining2012 or contact email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philadelphia Housing Authority Trainings
In response to questions from community allies like yourselves, the Philadelphia Housing Authority are hosting two additional trainings on its program, policies, and procedures.
When: Tuesday, 8/21/12, 10am-12pm or Thursday, 9/6/12, 10am-12pm
Where: PHA Warnock Facility at 2850 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19133
Topics will include Overview of PHA Programs, Eligibility, Waitlist and Tenant Selection, Tenant Policies, Procedures, and Services. All are welcome, but space is limited, so signup here ASAP to reserve your spot. www.bit.ly/PHAinfoFALLSUMMER
The Homeless Advocacy Project & PECO Birth Certificate Clinic
Birth certificates are often needed to receive medical assistance, housing and other public benefits, to obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s or non-driver’s license, for access to many public buildings, for general identification and for many other purposes. This is especially critical right now because of Pennsylvania’s new voter photo ID law.
When: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Where: PECO EXELON 2301 Market Street, (Energy Hall A & B) Philadelphia, PA 19101
Who: Open (and free of charge) to homeless individuals and families and those at risk of homelessness
Homeless individuals who attend this free clinic will meet with an advocate who will request birth certificates for them and their minor children free of charge. For all clinic dates and more information please visit: http://www.homelessadvocacyproject.org/legal-clinic-schedule.php
Remember – The Voter Registration Deadline is October 9th! Please contact Jennine Miller at 215-232-7272 if you need registration forms or assistance registering voters. Information about trainings and resources are available at www.voteforhomes.org.
On behalf of the Vote for Homes! Coalition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2011
Keith McHenry 575-770-3377
Kathy Mitro 386-795-9643
FOOD IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE
Sharing food with the hungry is an unregulated act of kindness.
End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry.
Rescind all laws restricting compassion.
“I wholeheartedly support the action on April 1, 2012 to protest
laws against sharing food!” Dr. Cornel West – author and professor at Princeton University
“THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO GIVE OUT FOOD, THERE IS ONLY GIVING OUT
ALL THE FOOD YOU CAN”
- Kathy Mitro who posted a petition on line after being threatened with arrest for sharing food in Daytona Beach. Florida in January 2012
We are proposing that people all over the world consider sharing free meals in celebration our right to food and participate in our campaign for an end to laws restricting acts of compassion.
Celebrate our right to feed the hungry with music, theater, and the sharing of food.
SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2012
It has been distressing to receive so many reports in the past few weeks of people being threatened with arrest or cities adopting new laws limiting people’s right to share free food with the public.
People in Belarus, England, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Florida have been contacting the Food Not Bombs global coordination office about having been threatened with arrest for sharing food. Others report that their local governments are considering laws to limit acts of compassion. Food Not Bombs volunteers in Minsk have been arrested for sharing meals an police raided a benefit concert on March 24, 2012 charging 15 volunteers with sentenced to administrative arrests.
This new wave of threats is happening as half of all Americans are struggling to survive. The Department of Agriculture’s February report shows that 46,286,294 people relied on food stamps in November of 2011. People have been arriving at Food Not Bombs meals claiming they had not eaten in four days because other food programs had exhausted their resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 1 in 7 people or 925 million people world wide went hungry in 2010. We are announcing a global campaign to recognize that sharing food with the hungry is an unregulated activity of compassion and should not be interfered with by the authorities.
Our movement started when the “Diggers” occupied St George’s Hill in Surrey, England on April 1, 1649 in a protest for the right of landless people to feed themselves. We are announcing our global campaign for the right of all people to share food with the hungry without regulation on the anniversary of the first act of the peaceful resistance by the “Diggers” of St George’s Hill.
The public is encouraged to share meals with their community on Sunday, April 1, 2012 to celebrate our right to share food and end all efforts to restrict acts of compassion. Please email our office so we can post your event on our website.
FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry
FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry on blog.foodnotbombs.net
• Barbara Ehrenreich – author of Nickel and Dimed
• Dr. Cornel West – author and professor Princeton University
• Noam Chomsky – author and professor M.I.T.
• Michael Parenti – author and lecturer
• Raj Patel – author of Stuffed and Starved
• Eric Holt-Giménez – Food First/Institute for Food and
• Bill McKibben – author Deep Economy
• David Barsamian – founder and director of Alternative Radio
• David Rovics – Musician, USA
• Kevin Devine – Musician, Brooklyn, NY
• Dorinda Moreno – Fuerza Mundial Collaborative
• Rev. Brian Burch – President, St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society
• Francisca James Hernández, Ph.D. – Southwest Institute for Research on Women
• Kathy Kelly – Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
• Max Ventura – Musician, Activist, Mom, USA
• Michele Burke – St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
• Rabbi. Auri V. Ish – Musician, Nederland Colorado
• Christina Persaud – Halifax Nova Scotia
• Can Baskent – Practical Anarchy, New York City
• Planting Justice – Oakland, CA
• KT Terry – Founder Homeless Not Hopeless Poets For Change
• Marian Wagner – The North Country Coalition for Justice and Peace, East Ryegate, Vermont
• Tessza Udvarhelyi – The City is for All, Budapest, Hungary
• Tristram Stuart – organized “Feeding the 5000″in London’s Trafalgar Square UK
• Kathy Mitro – Daytona Beach, Florida USA
• Agustina Vidal – Myrtle Beach Food Not Bombs
• Birmingham Food Not Bombs – Birmingham, UK
• Keith McHenry – Co-founder of the Food Not Bombs Movement
• Lauren Melodia – Founder & Co-organizer Milk Not Jails USA
• Tom Ferguson – Author, Atlanta, Georgia USA
• Comida, no bombas – Monterrey, Mexico
• Tampa Food Not Bombs – Tampa, Florida USA
• Grand Rapids Food Not Bombs – Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
• The Civil Liberties Defense Center – Eugene, Oregon, USA
• Durango Food Not Bombs – Durango, Colorado, USA
• Houston Food Not Bombs – Houston, Texas, USA
• Budapest Food Not Bombs – Budapest, Hungary
• Randall Amster – Chair of the Master’s Program in Humanities at Prescott College, and also serves as the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. USA
• Ellen Murphy – Bellingham, WA, USA
• Cincinnati Food Not Bombs – Cincinnati, OH, USA
• Miakoda (jyll taylor) – founder & director of Fierce Allies
• Washington D.C. Food Not Bombs – Washington D.C. USA
• Christy Prahl, New Communities Program Director – Humboldt Park, Chicago, IL
We added our name to the list as well.
Feeding The Homeless BANNED In Major Cities All Over America
Philadelphia decides to stop outdoor feeding of homeless
Parker retools, delays homeless feeding plan
Food not Bombs activists to stand trial after riot police`s raid on charity concert in Minsk
Freedom Day, Arbitrary Detentions and Travel Bans – Belarus Politics Digest
I did the math, and over the last 23 years, The King’s Jubilee has served or provided about half a million meals to homeless people or to needy children or seniors on fixed incomes. We have distributed tons of clothing and blankets to families in need. We have moved dozens of houses full of furniture from those who needed to get rid of it to those who needed it but could not afford it. We have redistributed dozens of used computers to people who needed them to learn basic skills or school children in the inner city. We have purchased vehicles for other ministries who serve in Jesus’ Name, even once acquiring an electric golf cart to help a tutor get around Richard Allen Homes project with all her books and teaching tools.
We have done all this and more on a frayed shoestring, with no building other than my home and no salaried staff. I say all this to say we are tired and we need your help to do greater things in the next generation. Please dig deep and give generously.
The way Mayor Nutter is phrasing things, it is like he has “invited” us to come inside and that it is all about concern for the health and dignity of the homeless population. When asked about enforcement, he says, “I’ll get back to you on that.”
The devil is in the details. He started using the Health Dept. to reduce the number of groups serving the homeless by adding to the complexity and expense of food preparation. The Health Dept. draft regulation called for all food to be prepared in a commercial grade kitchen that they inspect, prepared with at least one person whom they have trained on site then and when serving; a menu and a schedule submitted a year in advance. You would have to submit this and wait for permission, then serve only in the corraled, patroled space at City Hall, if they say yes, until they say no, a year from now, when they are going to shut everything down. That came with the mayoral decree through the Dept. of Parks and Recreation. None of this was voted on by City Council.
They say this is because they are concerned about food safety, but there have been no incidences of foodborne illness in outdoor, homeless, foodservice history. At one of the Health Dept. hearings, someone asked if the shelters had to meet these requirements. The answer came back, “We don’t have the budget for that.”
This exposed the real agenda of the Health Dept. It is to overburden church groups and citizen groups who are operating on a shoestring like we are, so that we can no longer do what we do. There are not enough indoor facilities to serve all who need to eat. Furthermore, not all whom we serve are homeless. Those who are not homeless do not feel comfortable going into those facilities, but many of them need to get free meals in order to afford rent. Many do not have cooking facilities, so these are the only hot meals they get.
The Mayor talked about access to social services inside. We serve a whole group of people who are not allowed inside the shelters for one reason or another. Philly Restart helps people get their birth certificates and Social Security cards. We have helped people reconnect with family. We provide people who are moving off the street with cleaning supplies and, more important than that, an ongoing social connection. We have provided homeless students with books, including one nurse who gave me his graduation program when he graduated cum laude, while living on the street! That’s independence.
All the City can see is a one size fits all, force everyone in approach. This tells me THAT THEY REALLY DO NOT HAVE CLUE ONE IN DEALING WITH HOMELESS PEOPLE!
Most homeless people are not homeless because they fit into a mold and were easily corraled. Among the homeless, you have the most quintessential, American independents you will find anywhere on God’s green earth! Unless you can recognize that and embrace that and to some degree celebrate that, you will not “solve” the homeless problem.
We do not have a problem with the city “inviting” groups to serve indoors. We do not have a problem with anyone who serves indoors. That’s great. We have a problem with the city serving substandard food at its shelters and then forcing everyone into them. We have a problem with the city opening a bunch of churches and saying that that’s the only place you can eat, even if it offends your conscience. This is not dignity, that is incarceration on the one hand and humiliation on the other.
We do not ask permission to exercise our religious freedom.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I am sorry for posting this so late. I have been very ill and sleeping a lot.
The King’s Jubilee was first formed out of the Saturday morning Bible study of about 150 men from E-Block at Graterford Prison. I shared the vision and asked them what I personally should be doing. They told me I should be serving food and sharing clothing and blankets in Jesus’ Name in center city Philadelphia. Come rain or ice or snow or wicked mayors and their decrees, I haven’t found a good reason to stop yet.
I went to prison just because i had some free time and a friend suggested I try it. Maybe you need to try it. God could use it to call you to do something truly amazing.
The home-schoolers’ group at St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church Souderton just started meeting this autumn. Bishop Thomas gave them the name of St. Justin Academy. For their first ever service project, they chose to make power packs for The King’s Jubilee. One of the moms called me to ask what went into power packs and I referred her to Michael Heveran or Teresa Gillmore at St. Philip Neri R. C. Church in Pennsburg. Michael has made a lot of power packs. Teresa invented them and proposed the idea to us over twenty years ago. I must confess that I have never made one. Plus my brain has been a little Swiss cheesy lately, so I deferred to the experts.
The small group of home-schoolers colored about fifty paper bags with colorful crosses and other decorations and filled them with food and juice suitable to be a snack or lunch for tomorrow. I had the joy of giving them away on the street tonight. The men were very thankful!
It is good to have our children and grandchildren develop a habit of hands on giving of alms in tangible ways. May God grant them many blessed years of fruitful learning and giving!
Narberth Presbyterian Church put out an invitation to join The King’s Jubilee on a tour of center city Philadelphia from the perspective of surviving on the street homeless. They had such a response that we had to divide it into two tours. We like to have no more than 20 people on a tour, so we can cross streets together and everyone can hear. Fred Benjamin and I led the first tour on October 16. There were twenty of us altogether on that tour, as there were some last minute cancellations from Narberth and some last minute participants from St. Philip Orthodox Church. Everyone brought sandwiches to give away. We also had power packs and bottled water. It was basically the same tour as the “Walkabout” we did last spring, with the addition of a visit to a compact home set up in a dumpster and a side trip at the end into the Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. Fred shared stories of the resourcefulness of those living on the street, along with some desperate measures taken when there was no one who came out to feed them. I shared the history and philosophy of The King’s Jubilee, along with suggestions of ways they could join us in the ministry.
On November 20, I was in the hospital for the third time, so Father Noah Bushelli went in my stead to help lead and share an Orthodox perspective on ministry among the poor. There were 47 on the tour that day. Fr. told me that, even so, everyone crossed the streets safely and could hear fairly well, although the tour took an hour longer than anticipated.
We feel these tours have helped people to understand homeless people as people first and we hope they will give rise to more and creative ways to reach out and help solve this terrible symptom of the disconnectedness of our time. We plan to do more of these, including one in the dead of winter. Hopefully future tours will include pilgrimages to Orthodox Churches in the city for prayer and to encourage and strengthen the witness of those Orthodox who are living on the front lines.